Altman shivered. “To this day I don’t like walking past there, even though I know perfectly well it’s silly.”
“I tried to reassure myself by going over everything I knew about the inpiduals involved. Colum Heely was a low-life crook who had arrived here to start a new life for himself, wipe away the stains of the crimes he’d committed. That’s what he told people anyway. I am sure that had he lived, he would have tired of mining, committed some new crimes, and been on his way again before too long.
“Jeck had been another sort altogether. He’d lived in Holdswaine with his wife and daughter before the Blue Chill had taken the wife.”
Archerd started to open his mouth, but his father cut in. “You won’t have heard of that, I know. It’s a terrible plague that spread throughout Dolesham and many farther lands, oh, about 30 years ago. It killed many, many more than just Jeck’s wife, sad to say.
“Jeck was a melancholy sort; that’s to be expected, I suppose. Spent a lot of time at the taverns, drinking away the evenings, starting off quiet, getting rather louder as the ale flowed. He had his share of fights, certainly.
“Jeck’s daughter was rarely seen. She was never the same after her mother passed. In the several years she lived here, nobody ever heard her speak. She spent all her time at home; she never attended lessons.”
“After Jeck was found, the ironworks foreman agreed to take her in and foster her; she had no family left that anyone knew of. The man had gotten on with Jeck well enough. But when the news was brought to her, Jeck’s house was empty. Of the girl there was no sign.”